Powered by the internet, the sex trade is reaching into all corners of the country. Reveal takes us into hidden places – real and virtual – where people are exploited for sex. Produced in collaboration with APM Reports, we’ll hear stories from the pot fields of Northern California to suburban Seattle.
We start off in Northern California, where trafficking and sexual violence is thriving due in part to the booming marijuana trade. Fishing, ranching and timber once were the big industries here, but now it’s pot. The trade is worth billions – and police say that in recent years, it’s become intermingled with the sex trade and organized crime.
Reveal’s Shoshana Walters reports from a pot-growing region known as the Emerald Triangle. There, the trade is dominated by men, and it’s a secretive world. This time of year, the big fall harvest attracts seasonal workers from around the globe.
Next, we meet a young woman picked up by police at a truck stop. APM Reports’ Emily Haavik takes us to Illinois to explore the tactics pimps use to manipulate and exploit their victims. Trafficking is hard to measure, partly because you can’t always tell who’s selling sex voluntarily. Some are coerced, some forced – sometimes the women themselves aren’t sure.
And finally, we examine a thriving market of sex buyers hiding in plain sight. Where? On the internet. Sasha Aslanian of APM Reports travels to a wealthy suburb of Seattle, where a secret community of sex buyers is taking the trade to a whole new level.
Image: Anna Vignet for Reveal